President Joe Biden tests positive for COVID-19 again

“Paxlovid rebound” is the culprit, according to White House physician. What is Paxlovid rebound? Learn more.

President Joe Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, said in a letter Saturday Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time.

“After testing negative on Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning, Thursday morning and Friday morning, the President tested positive late Saturday morning, by antigen testing,” O’Connor stated on July 30. “This in fact represents “rebound” positivity.”

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While COVID-19 positive, Biden had reported mild symptoms and isolated himself while continuing to work. Biden tested negative for COVID-19 on July 27.

On Saturday, O’Connor reported Biden had not experienced a “reemergence of symptoms, and continues to feel quite well."

“This being the case, there is no reason to reinitiate treatment at this time,” he said. “But we will obviously continue close observation.”

Since Biden tested positive again, he will reinitiate “strict isolation procedures,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor last week acknowledged the potential for so-called "rebound” COVID-19 positivity.

Pfizer’s Paxlovid antiviral, which Biden took, is used within the first five days of testing positive for COVID-19. The treatment stops the virus from replicating in the body, according to medical professionals. Some people have reported testing positive again after taking the antiviral, which is observed in a “small percentage” of patients treated with Paxlovid, O'Connor said.

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Black Iowa News last week interviewed Dr. Jeremy Faust about Paxlovid and the pandemic

Dr. Jeremy Faust, author of “Inside Medicine,” a Bulletin newsletter, discussed Paxlovid and "Paxlovid rebound” with Black Iowa News last week. Faust, is an emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. He is the editor-in-chief at MedPageToday.

Here’s what Faust told Black Iowa News about Paxlovid:

Black Iowa News: Some people with current COVID-19 infections have sought out Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral, Paxlovid, which is trending on Twitter. How does it work in the body, how likely is someone to experience "Paxlovid rebound" and what should at-risk patients do if their doctors/pharmacists refuse to prescribe it?

Dr. Jeremy Faust, author of “Inside Medicine,” a Bulletin newsletter, discussed Paxlovid and "Paxlovid rebound” with Black Iowa News last week. Faust, is an emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. He is the editor-in-chief at MedPageToday. Photo courtesy of Faust.

Dr. Jeremy Faust: "Paxlovid is an antiviral medication. It actually stops the virus from replicating. And that seems like a really good idea. Lots of medications do that. But this is the one that seems to actually do so in a way that really decreases the likelihood of severe illness or hospitalization. And it was studied in unvaccinated people, and it had a major effect. With vaccinated people, it looks like the data are less clear on this, but from what we can tell, it seems to help some vaccinated people, as well as especially older vaccinated people or people with a lot of risk factors. I don't think the young and healthy need it. I am not really that young. I am 43, and I'm pretty healthy. If and when I get COVID, I do not expect that I will be taking Paxlovid, but I don't think I need it. I have a little bit of asthma, but I'm not worried that that's going to make me go to the hospital.

So I'm actually seeing two things: I'm seeing it under-prescribed in at-risk patients, and I'm seeing it over-prescribed in the young, healthy and wealthy. But how do we get it to people who need it? But I actually think that, you know, basically push back. Because if you're an older person or a person with risk factors, or especially an unvaccinated person, but even if you're vaccinated and have real risk factors, I think that the doctors and pharmacists need to just be given a second chance to hear that again, that may not solve it, but say 'Look, the CDC says that at-risk patients like me should get Paxlovid. Why would I not get it?' And they might have a good reason like, 'Oh, it's been too long, or it interacts with medication you're taking.' But I think that we should feel emboldened to push back on the people who are saying no, in the cases where the answer should be yes.

People who take Paxlovid, they might have this rebound where they become positive on those rapid tests again, and basically if you are positive on a rapid at-home test, you should be considered contagious. If those rapid at-home tests are showing those lines on the test line that says you're positive, you've got to consider yourself contagious. Paxlovid rebound is when someone who gets infected with coronavirus takes Paxlovid but then their symptoms get a little better. They might start to test negative on an at-home rapid antigen test, and then they have this rebound where they start to feel worse again and they check to see if they've tested positive again, and lo and behold, it is.

So it's this idea that you go from positive to negative back to positive again, and your symptoms go from not feeling great to feeling better to feeling worse again. And Paxlovid is causing this, we don't know how common it is. I think it is more common than the 1% or so that they picked up in the clinical trials. I don't know whether it's 5%, 10%, 20%, but it's certainly a lot higher than we initially thought. And it's a reason for young healthy people not to take Paxlovid, if you ask me. You'd like this thing to be over in 10-12 days, not 15 or 20.”

Read the entire interview: 'Surges of new variants for the foreseeable future,' amid progress, says a leading COVID-19 expert

Read Inside Medicine

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